Morcha leaders clear air on naturalised citizenship

  • Blame major parties for ‘uncalled for controversy’
- ROSHAN SEDHAI, Kathmandu

Nov 9, 2016-

Top leaders of the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM) have said they have never demanded any provision allowing naturalised citizens to hold constitutional positions. 

Following media reports that the government was preparing to amend the constitution inserting a provision to allow naturalised citizens to hold top constitutional positions if they have resided in the country for at least 10 years, leaders from across the party lines have been making public remarks on the issue. 

“We have never demanded any provision allowing naturalised citizens to hold constitutional positions. The Congress, UML and the Maoists gave continuity to the provision themselves,” Sadbhawana Party Chairman Rajendra Mahato told the Post. “If they think what they did is wrong and have the courage to correct their mistake, they are free to change the provision through required amendment to the constitution.” Mahato added that top leaders, however, must seek a public apology before undoing their mistake. 

“They are answerable for allowing naturalised citizens to have the right to hold constitutional positions as the provision was in earlier constitutions, including the interim constitution of 2007,” said Mahato. 

However, Mahato made it clear that those who became naturalised citizens of this country before the change in the provision must get equal treatment.

“They [major parties] are free to make amendments curtailing the rights of the people who will become naturalised citizens in future. But those who were given citizenship earlier should get all the rights guaranteed by the then constitution, including the right to hold constitutional positions,” said Mahato, adding that foreign women married to Nepali men should also get equal status. 

Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal Chairman Upendra Yadav said the major parties were making a non-issue an issue “for cheap popularity”. “I do not see any point in giving continuity to the entire provision on naturalised citizens in the constitution,” he said. “Why and for whom do we need the provision regarding the naturalised citizens in the first place when we already have the required provision in place for Nepali nationals? Let’s scrap the naturalised citizen provision altogether,” Yadav told the Post.   

Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party Chairman Mahantha Thakur said it was Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s proposal to retain the provision of the interim constitution to end the row over the citizenship. 

Article 155 (2) of the Interim Constitution states: “In order to be eligible for appointment to constitutional positions under this constitution, one must be a citizen of Nepal either by descent or birth or as a naturalised citizen who has resided in Nepal at least for 10 years.” 

However, according to the new constitution, only citizens by descent can hold the constitutional positions.

“We still don’t know what’s going to be their final proposal. We will give our response after seeing the proposal,” Thakur told the Post.

Published: 09-11-2016 07:23

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